Busy Festive Season for the NSRI

Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said:

On 03 January 2019 a hiking party of twelve people, including 5 children, set off on a kloofing trip down the Kaaimans river, near Wilderness, departing at about 15h45. The group may have underestimated the difficult terrain and rapids which had been exacerbated by high water levels as a result of the previous day’s rain as well as the distance of the route.  

Early on in the trip, one of the group was able make telephonic contact with a relative to inform them that they would be taking longer than expected.

A second call to the same relative after 18h15 was disconnected due to limited cell phone reception in the gorge.

Unable to make further contact with the group and uncertain of their wellbeing the relative alerted emergency services.

WC Government Health EMS rescue services contacted an NSRI Wilderness rescue swimmer who is also a commercial canyoning adventure tour operator on the Kaaiman’s River.

A team of NSRI Station 23 Wilderness crew, all swift water rescue qualified, was assembled at the Map of Africa view point.

EMS rescue and George Fire ad Rescue services also responded.

Three different sectors of the river were searched.    

The hiking group had split, and three members had gone ahead down river to seek help, leaving the remaining 5 children (ages 3, 6, 7, 8, 8) and 4 adults to continue at a slower pace.

Rescue crews located the advance group at approximately 20h00 and they confirmed that the remaining 9 were still on the river and they were able to provide an estimate of their location.

Two NSRI rescue teams that had searched different sectors then joined together and the single rescue team of 5 rescuers proceeded down the gorge and searched up river towards the casualty group.  

The casualties were located and they were not injured but were found to be exhausted, cold and the children were distressed.

After a short section where it was required to swim we assisted the party to swim that section of the river and we led the group to a point where they could then proceed, using headlights, down the rocks and along the river bank with the children all being carried. 

At this point, a team of 3 volunteers from Outeniqua Trail Running Search & Rescue team had made their way from near the river mouth and they reached the rescue group. Additional space blankets were used to help warm the casualties and group the proceeded to hike down the canyon until reaching the emergency vehicles.

After medical assessment by NSRI and George Fire Department medics, the casualties were transported back to the Map of Africa and reunited with their families.

05 January 2018 at 18h39 NSRI Wilderness was alerted by a guest house owner in Wilderness who reported a paraglider who had collided with the steep dune on the coast and not able to make her way out of the dense vegetation. A NSRI medic was dispatched to scene and WC Government EMS rescue was activated. 

An EMS rescue technician and NSRI medic were able to reach the casualty, a female

paraglider who was on holiday from Germany and were able to assist her out the thick bush to safety.

She was treated for scratches but did not suffer any serious injuries.

At 21h45, Friday, 04th January, NSRI Wilderness were alerted to reports of a 45 year old Cape Town man missing in the Swartvlei, the lake at Pine Lake Marina, between Sedgefield and Knysna.

Reportedly, earlier, a father and his three children, female, 16, female, 7, and a male, 5, on holiday in George and visiting friends at Pine Lake Marina, launched a small boat that they had hired onto Swartvlei to go fishing at around 16h00.

When they hadn’t returned by nightfall the man’s wife and friends raised the alarm and it appears civilians launched a search using jet-ski’s.

During their search, reportedly at approximately 20h30, they found the 3 children swimming to shore and only the male child was wearing a life-jacket, although it has been reported that they had all been issued life-jackets, and all 3 were brought to shore.

Nurses, reportedly on vacation at the resort, treated the children for hypothermia and shock.

The children reported that earlier the boat that they were on had capsized. They had lost sight of their dad and they started to swim to shore. 

Civilians, using jet ski’s, reportedly continued to search for their father who was missing.

NSRI and the emergency services were alerted at 21h45.

NSRI Station 23 Wilderness duty crew with 2 NSRI rescue craft, a Police Dive Unit with a Police boat, WC Government Health EMS and the EMS rescue squad, Knysna/Sedgefield Fire and Rescue Services and Sedgefield COP (Community Orientated Police) responded.

An extensive water and shoreline search commenced and the 2 sea rescue craft and the Police boat launched onto Swartvlei and the civilians on jet ski’s were arranged into assisting NSRI and the emergency services in a coordinated sweeping line search and grid search.

The family, the wife and the 3 children, were transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance in the care of paramedics suffering from shock.

During an extensive search in the early hours of Saturday morning the body of the man was located and recovered and the body has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services.

Police have opened an inquest docket.

The small boat and the remaining life-jackets have not been located. 

NSRI and the emergency services have conveyed Condolences to family and friends.

The hired boat was not hired out by Pine Lake Marina but by a private boat rental company that operates from the slipway.

Pine Lake Marina Management and staff and Pine Lake Marina security staff assisted in the incident but reportedly only became aware of the incident at approximately the same time that NSRI were alerted.

Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said:

On Sunday 30 December 2018 at 19h10, NSRI Station 23 Wilderness was contacted to assist a paraglider who had collided with the top of a steep dune in Wilderness.

Earlier we had attended to a similar incident nearby.

George Fire and Rescue Services and Western Cape Government EMS Rescue Services also responded to the scene.

On arrival, we found a 33 year old tourist from the Netherlands who could not move down the dune due to the near vertical drop or go up as a result of dense vegetation.

In fading light, helicopter access was not possible.

The casualty was advised to wait, while EMS and Fire Department rescue technicians located an access route through the vegetation.

On reaching the casualty, they guided him out to safety in fading light.

He was treated on scene for minor cuts and bruises by a NSRI medic, but he required no further treatment and was released.

Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said:

On Saturday, 29 December, at 17h24 NSRI Station 23 Wilderness duty crew were activated by lifeguards at Victoria Bay reporting a child drowning in progress.

On arrival on the scene Sea Rescue medics found a 7-year old boy from George who had been rescued by the lifeguards unconscious after reportedly being submerged in the surf had regained consciousness and a paramedic from George Fire and Rescue Services who was first on scene had started assessing the child for non-fatal drowning symptoms.

We were shortly joined by a Western Cape Government EMS rescue technician, an EMS Advanced Life Support paramedic and an WCG-Health ambulance.

The boy was administered medical oxygen and transferred to George Regional Hospital by EMS ambulance in a stable condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The lifeguards at Victoria Bay are commended for their vigilance and swift response which helped to save the boy’s life.

On Sunday, 30th December, at 10h38 NSRI Station 23 Wilderness duty crew were activated to assist George Dire and Rescue Services and WC Government Health EMS responding to a sand dine in Wilderness along the shoreline where a paraglider had collided into the near vertical cliff face  of the sand dune.

Residence above the sand dune had raised the alarm.

A tourist from Potchefstroom, Henrietta Boonzaaier, on the beach at the time and concerned for the paraglider, she had written her cellphone number in large font on the beach. The 59 year old German paraglider had seen the phone number written in the sand and he called Henrietta on her cellphone and on NSRI’s arrival on the scene, not immediately being able to reach the paraglider, we were able to talk to him thanks to the efforts and the quick thinking of Henrietta.

He confirmed he had an ankle injury and he was advised to stay where he was until help arrived.

Access to the paraglider could not be reached by land.

The EMS/AMS Skymed rescue helicopter was activated and used a residents lawn as a landing zone.

An EMS technical rescue technician was deployed to the paraglider by the Skymed rescue helicopter and the casualty was hoisted into the helicopter and he has been transported to hospital where following treatment to an ankle injury he was released.

The residents are commended for giving access to the scene through their gardens and the resident who gave up his back lawn for a landing zone for the helicopter.


Saturday, 29th December:

Bathers and beach users are requested to be cautious along the Wilderness coastline due to suspected increased inshore shark activity after a Humpback whale washed ashore late yesterday, Friday, 28th December, on Wilderness Beach.

George Municipal lifeguards, George Fire and Rescue Services, NSRI Wilderness, SA National Parks rangers, S.M.A.R.T. (Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team) members, SA Police Services and SPCA officers responded to the scene.

Marine Authorities, the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts and the SPCA are attending to the situation and Municipal Authorities are monitoring public beach safety.


Andre Fraser, NSRI Mossel Bay station commander, said:

At 20h00, Friday, 28th December, NSRI Station 15 Mossel Bay were alerted by WC Government Health EMS Metro Control of a 73 year old American man suffering a suspected Stroke (CVA – Cerebro Vascular Accident) aboard the cruise liner Seven Seas Explora and nearest Port of call Mossel Bay.

We began preparations to launch sea rescue craft and By Grace ambulance services dispatched paramedics to join in the operation.

Earlier MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) had been alerted and an EMS duty doctor contacted the ship in communications assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services and the ship was at that stage approximately 2 hours from Mossel Bay, last Port of call Cape Town and next Port of call Port Elizabeth.

NSRI Station 15 Mossel Bay dispatched 2 sea rescue craft, Rescue 15 and St Blaze Rescuer, accompanied by paramedics from By Grace ambulance services.

WC Government Health EMS remained on alert.

On arrival on the scene, 5.5 nautical miles East of Mossel Bay, in 30 to 40 knot North Easterly winds and a 3 to 4 meter sea swell, a paramedic and 2 NSRI rescue swimmers were transferred onto the ship.

The patient, in a serious but stable condition, was secured onto a stretcher and transferred onto sea rescue craft and brought to shore in the care of the paramedics and he has been transported to hospital accompanied by his wife.

Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said:

25 DECEMBER 17h23, NSRI Station 23 Wilderness were alerted by life guards on Wilderness Beach who requested assistance with 4 casualties caught in a rip-current.

NSRI crew, who had based themselves at the station over this busy time to be able to respond quickly, immediately launched 4.2m Oscar’s Rescue (Rescue 23B).

On arrival on the scene NSRI found that the lifeguards had rescued all the casualties from the surf and no further assistance was required.

25 DECEMBER 17h51 NSRI Station 23 Wilderness were alerted to a non-fatal drowning victim at Wilderness lagoon who had been rescued from the water by life guards.

NSRI crew responded with Rescue 23 mobile and on arrival found the 5 year old boy from George, Luniko Matolengwe, appeared to be losing consciousness.

NSRI Medics, assisted by the lifeguards, provided medical assistance and administered medical oxygen and Western Cape Government Health EMS Control activated ER24 ambulance services who responded to the scene.

The child, in a stable condition, displaying non-fatal drowning symptoms, was transferred to hospital by ER24 ambulance for further medical support and he is expected to fully recover. 

Ross Badenhorst, NSRI Plettenberg Bay duty controller, said:

At 12h13, Wednesday, 26th December, NSRI Station 14 Plettenberg bay dispatched the sea rescue craft Airlink Rescuer and Rescue Ray Farnham following reports of a drowning in progress at Natures Valley Beach 2.

Bitou lifeguards, on duty at Natures Valley Beach 4, also responded and ER24 ambulance services were activated.

Prior to NSRI arriving on the scene it was confirmed that lifeguards rescue 3 people from the water, male, 52, and 2 females, 17 and 18.

Lifeguards initiated medical treatment and they were assisted by a doctor who happened to be on the beach at the time.

Our 2 sea rescue craft arrived on the scene and our NSRI medics assisted with medical care and all 3 patients have been transported to hospital by ER24 ambulance in stable conditions for treatment for non-fatal drowning symptoms.

At 16h15, Tuesday, 25th December, NSRI Station 12 Knysna responded to Buffalo Bay following reports of a drowning in progress.

Lifeguards, Western Cape Government Health EMS and EMS Rescue, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services and the SA Police Services were responding and NSRI Knysna launched the sea rescue craft Jaytee 4 and Eileen Meadway and responded to the scene.

We believe that lifeguards and 2 surfers had located and recovered an unconscious man from the water and he was brought onto the shore where 4 doctors, who happened to be there at the time on holiday, had commenced CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) efforts which were joined by paramedics on their arrival on the scene but sadly after extensive CPR efforts were exhausted the man, who is believed to be from Malawi, was declared deceased.

The body of the man has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket.

Condolences are conveyed to family.

At 09h04, Tuesday, 25th December, NSRI Station 15 Mossel Bay were activated to reports of a drowning in progress in the Great Brak River, Suiderkruis, Mossel Bay, near to the mouth of the Great Brak River.

Municipal lifeguards had initiated a search for an 8 year old female missing in the river and NSRI Mossel Bay, Mossel Bay Fire and Rescue Services, WC Government Health EMS, By Grace ambulance services and the SA Police Services responded.

On arrival on the scene lifeguards had located and recovered the female from the water and CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) efforts had commenced and paramedics continued with CPR on the scene before loading the patient into an ambulance with CPR continuing to hospital in the ambulance and CPR continuing at the hospital before doctors sadly declared the child deceased.

Police have opened an inquest docket.

Condolences are conveyed to family.

At 11h42, Tuesday, 25th December, NSRI Station 23 Wilderness responded to Wilderness Beach following reports of a drowning in progress.

3 people were reported to be caught in rip currents.

Wilderness lifeguards, NSRI, ER24 ambulance services, Western Cape Government Health EMS and EMS Rescue, George Fire and Rescue Services, the SA Police Services, George Municipal Law Enforcement officers and Critical Care 911 (from Gauteng who were in George at the time to assist with a hospital transfer) responded.

NSRI Wilderness launched the sea rescue craft Oscars Rescuer.

On arrival on the scene the sea rescue craft Oscars Rescuer joined a search that was being conducted by lifeguards who were conducting coordinated free dive search patterns in the surf and during the search a lifeguard located and recovered an unconscious man from the water and he was brought onto the beach where extensive CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) efforts were commenced but sadly after all CPR efforts were exhausted the man, from Holland, was declared deceased.

The 2 other people caught in rip currents, believed to be his family members, were safe out the water and not injured.

The Department of Tourism are assisting the deceased man’s wife and his 2 daughters.

The body of the man has been taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services and Police have opened an inquest docket.

Condolences are conveyed to family.

At 10h20, Sunday, 23rd December, NSRI Station 23 Wilderness were activated to a drowning in progress at Steps a few hundred meters West of the NSRI station.

The casualty, an 87 year old male, was rescued by on duty lifeguards.

NSRI dispatched the sea rescue vehicle with an NSRI medic to the scene. 

The casualty was treated by our NSRI medic and then transported to hospital by an ER24 ambulance in a stable condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Just after midday, Sunday, 23rd December, lifeguards at Wilderness Main Beach were called to assist a 41-year male who stood on a fishing trace while swimming and the fish hook embedded in his foot.

Lifeguards brought the man to the NSRI station for further treatment. 

A doctor, on holiday from Welkom, who was also on the beach at the time offered to assist.

The doctor helped to cut off the eye of the embedded fish hook and pull out the barbed end via the exit wound. The wound was cleaned, and a dressing applied.  No further assistance was required.

The efforts of the life-guards and the doctor who volunteered to assist are commended.

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